Summer Special Education Program Keeps Students Connected

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For six weeks this summer, Valley Stream District 30’s special education summer services program met at Shaw Avenue Elementary School. Thirty-seven students participated in this year’s extended school year program. The annual program is designed to meet the needs of students entering grades 1-6 with learning disabilities from all three of the district’s elementary schools.

The half-day program is designed for students who have a 12-month Individualized Education Plan to help them meet their goals and prevent any regression over the summer months, said Dr. Nicole Schimpf, director of special services and coordinator of the summer program. Four teachers – Gabby Cunzio, Monet Springer, Jessica Pearlman and Mary Jeanty – worked alongside teacher aides and related services. Students strengthened their reading, writing and math skills, along with social and emotional skills in the classroom. The small class sizes allowed for individualized attention to be set on specific student needs and an occupational therapist, physical therapist and speech therapist offered services throughout the summer.

“We have added a social-emotional component via our morning meetings,” Dr. Schimpf said. “We also have interactive project-based activities and each week is centered around a theme.”

Weekly themes were coordinated by Ms. Cunzio. “The lessons throughout the week were centered around that theme in reading, writing and math activities,” she said. “On Fridays, the students participated in an engaging hands-on activity tied to that theme.”

“I really think the students got a lot of the work they did this summer,” said teacher aide Lynn Calhoun. “These teachers really made it interesting to come to school and learn during the summer.” The program concluded with a pizza party and a day of outdoor activities for all to enjoy.